Camping in the olden days: No portable espresso machines then

Sep 17, 2023
From sleeping under the stars to glamping in luxury, camping has come a long way. Source: Getty Images.

Do you remember going camping as a small child? My family never did, but I accompanied a few friends and their families to go camping in the holidays. There was a huge canvas tent, very basic with few amenities. You had a sleeping bag on a groundsheet if you were lucky and you all cooked over a campfire. It was such fun. Basic food, like baked beans and eggs or fried sausages were easy to cook. We kids spent hours away playing unsupervised on the beach or river bank and came back starving and sunburnt for white bread sandwiches with vegemite or jam.

Toilet amenities were either very basic in a campground with a long drop dunny and a shower hose if you were lucky. But we didn’t care about that, we were too busy fishing, swimming or just exploring the local area. If we had a rope we made a rope swing over the river or we played cricket or football to keep ourselves amused. We were so tired that we were asleep as soon as it was dark, not noticing the hard ground as we curled up in our sleeping bags.

I haven’t been camping as an adult, but many of my friends have very fancy camping or caravan set ups. So efficient and nifty that they have things like inside bathrooms and toilets and dishwashers and even espresso machines. A satellite dish and solar panel mean you can watch tv or catch up on Netflix. Whole communities of travellers are off discovering our beautiful country and forming friendships as grey nomads. I personally haven’t joined that tribe as a van set up is way out of my league, but my daughter takes her kids away in a pop top caravan which is very basic, but they have lots of fun – and she does have an espresso machine.

There has always been something attractive and romantic about tents through. As a child I had a red Indian calico tent and spent hours in the back yard with it set up. I even slept in it at times. If no tent was available we put old sheets over the Hills hoist and carted out old pillows and rugs to sleep under the stars in our back yard. I loved it. We had torches to tell ghost stories until one of us got too scared and ran in to tell mum or dad.

Times change don’t they? I had to laugh when I saw a ‘glamping’ set up in a tent for an exorbitant fee. It sure was flash with Moroccan style lanterns and rugs and a queen bed set up with 1000 thread count sheets and a fridge with champagne and oysters. Apparently glamping is becoming very popular, but I might give it a miss. For $250 a night, I would prefer a nice resort suite with all of the mod cons and a toilet that flushes. How about you? Would you still give camping in a tent a go?

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